Present day water and energy systems are interdependent. Water is used in all phases of energy production and electricity generation. Energy is required to extract, treat and deliver water for human uses. These interdependencies are often referred to as the water-energy nexus, and recent developments have focused national attention on these connections.
At Secretary Moniz's direction, the Water-Energy Tech Team (WETT) was formed to identify and pursue cross-cutting technology, data, modeling, analysis, and policy priorities for the Department relevant to the water-energy nexus. The WETT also facilitates coordination of activities within the department and outreach with other stakeholders. The water-energy nexus is integral to two DOE policy priorities: climate change and energy security.
THE WATER-ENERGY NEXUS: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
When severe drought affected more than a third of the United States in 2012, limited water availability constrained the operation of some power plants and other energy production activities. Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the compounding ramifications of vital water infrastructure losing power. The recent boom in domestic unconventional oil and gas development has added complexity to the national dialogue on the relationship between energy and water resources.
The WETT has drafted The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities, which frames an integrated challenge and opportunity space around the nexus for DOE and its partners and lays the foundation for future efforts.
The WETT has identified six strategic pillars that will serve as the foundation for coordinating R&D:
- Optimize the freshwater efficiency of energy production, electricity generation, and end use technologies
- Optimize the energy efficiency of water management, treatment, distribution, and end use technologies
- Enhance the reliability and resilience of energy and water technologies
- Increase safe and productive use of nontraditional water sources through improved technology
- Promote responsible energy operations with respect to water quality, ecosystem, and seismic impacts
- Exploit productive synergies among water and energy system technologies
The WETT is working with partners, including other federal agencies, state and local governments, foreign governments, private industry, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and citizens to pursue research, development, and deployment of key technologies; shared robust datasets; integrated models to inform decision-making; harmonization of policies where warranted; and public dialogue.